J.J. HICKS: Remaining teams seek semifinal round


Southside's Dantley Coker runs the ball against Cullman on Friday. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times)


COMMENTARY

Just three teams from The Gadsden Times’ coverage area remain alive in the Alabama High School Athletic Association state football playoffs entering Friday’s quarterfinals.

Class 5A, No. 4 Southside, 3A, No. 5 Piedmont and 2A, No. 4 Fyffe still have a shot at bringing home a state championship, but from here on, the road only gets more difficult.

The Panthers are 12-0 and seeking the fourth round of the postseason for the first time in school history. Standing in their way this week is No. 10 McAdory, which comes to Barney Hood Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets (10-2) have won their first two playoff games over Fort Payne and Pinson Valley by a combined score of 69-24. For the season, they allow just 11.1 points per game.

One thing working against Southside is that star offensive lineman Tyler Carr, a Division 1 prospect, had his appendix out this week and will not play against McAdory.

Still, the rest of the Panther linemen should not be discounted, and odds are Southside still will be able to produce, and Dantley Coker is a force at fullback.

Another factor working in the favor of coach Ron Daugherty’s team is that the Yellow Jackets lost to Wenonah 8-0 in Week 9, while Southside beat the Dragons 30-14 two weeks ago.

I see the Panthers improving to 14-0. Southside 21, McAdory 13.

The Bulldogs (11-1) arguably have the toughest test of the week as they welcome No. 1 Madison Academy to the Field of Champions on Friday.

Outside of Week 8’s 40-15 loss to unbeaten Saks, No. 5 Piedmont has been dominant for most of the year.

The Mustangs are 12-0 and the defending state champions. They also have a pair of running backs — junior Kerryon Johnson and sophomore Malik Miller — who already hold multiple SEC scholarship offers.

Steve Smith’s team never can be discounted, but the Mustangs are just too much to handle. Madison Academy 31, Piedmont 17.

Another undefeated team stands in Fyffe’s way.

No. 2 Lanett (11-0) runs a Wing-T offense, as do the fourth-ranked Red Devils (11-1), and much like Paul Benefield’s team, it does so to great success.

Lanett averages nearly 43 points per game, and they rely heavily upon fullback Marlon Bridges to carry the load, similar to how Fyffe utilizes Trent Thrash in the same role.

With the Red Devils averaging 41 points per contest, all the makings are there for an offensive showcase, but I think Lanett pulls out a close one. Lanett 38, Fyffe 34.


Times Sports Writer J.J. Hicks can be reached at jj.hicks@gadsdentimes.com.